Livermore Valley just hosted it’s 7th Annual Barrel Tasting Weekend. Individuals were invited to head to the 35 participating wineries for a unique experience including the chance to taste wine right out of the barrel, and meet winemakers.
About 30 miles east of San Francisco, Livermore Valley Wine Country is considered one of California’s oldest wine regions. Spanish missionaries planted the first wine grapes in the Livermore Valley in the 1760s. Robert Livermore planted the first commercial vines in the 1840s. Pioneer winemakers C. H. Wente, James Concannon, and Charles Wetmore recognized the area’s potential and founded their wineries in the early 1880s. Livermore Valley captured America’s first international gold medal for wine in 1889 at the Paris Exposition, putting California on the world wine map.
Livermore Valley wineries were actually the first to bottle varietal labeled Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Petite Sirah. Nearly 80% of California’s Chardonnay vines trace their genetic roots to a Livermore Valley clone. Livermore Valley also boasted more than 50 wineries until Prohibition and now has over 40 wineries and more than 5,000 acres of vineyards. (https://www.lvwine.org/history.php)
The weekend started off at Steven Kent Winery, owned and operated by Steven Mirassou -a 6th generation winemaker. Steven was there himself to discuss the unique Livermore Valley offerings, as well as pour samples from his 2013 Home Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon. Wine Enthusiast’s Steve Heimoff has said, “Steven Kent is producing today’s greatest Livermore Cabernets, wines that hearken back to the valley’s roots as one of California’s best wine regions.” The tasting room delivers a classic wine aesthetic and knowledgeable staff. (http://www.stevenkent.com)
Following the advice of several recommendations, 3 Steves Winery was up next. The Winery not only boasts award-worthy views, or a winning creation story (their tagline reveals a clue, “3 Friends Striving To Make The Perfect Wine”), but was named the Winner of the 2014 Best Red Wine Of Show (Sweepstakes Award) in the Largest US Wine Competition in the World, the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. One of the Steves, Steve Burman, was pouring the 2013 Zinfandel which has now made the winery a popular destination, grapes coming from the Cienega Valley near Hollister. Bring friends and pack snacks to enjoy the fun tasting room experience. (http://3steveswinery.com)
Sunday kicked off at another local’s favorite, McGrail Vineyards. McGrail prides itself on being a boutique winery centered on family friends and fellow wine lovers. McGrail’s vineyard is a 16 acre hillside Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard in the Livermore Valley, approximately 1,000 feet above sea level. At the tasting room, enjoy not only bocce but some truly breathtaking views of the surrounding vineyards. (http://www.mcgrailvineyards.com/home.html)
The final major stop of the weekend was Eagle Ridge Vineyard. Eagle Ridge was tucked away, and pulling up to the small tasting room felt a bit like stepping into the set of an eclectic movie shoot. Friendly staff from both Eagle Ridge and Dante Robere Vineyards walked us through their barrel tastings and current portfolios. The very balanced and “un jammy” 2010 Estate Grown Zinfandel from Eagle Ridge was a favorite. (http://eagleridgevineyard.com)
The #SipSavorServe Recommendations from the weekend:
- Sip: We also stopped at Garre (http://www.garrewinery.com/index.html) for lunch and the winery offers a “destination” like facility with an outdoor cafe overlooking some impressive vistas. Grab a bottle of the Garre House Sparkling Wine, bring some brie, fruits, and almonds, and stroll the grounds or grab a bench and watch some bocce
- Savor: 3 Steves Winery 2012 “Three Zins” Zinfandel. Savor this complex yet elegant wine with flavors of fruit, spice, and a long finish while unwinding for the day.
- Serve: Steven Kent 2014 “Lola” White Blend. At 75% Sauvignon Blanc and 25% Semillon, this blend is great for every palate. It presents lovely citrus notes and would be perfect to serve this spring with a fresh crab salad or some goat cheese on wheat crackers.
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